Level playing field, not create new inequalities

Mr Kwan Jin Yao has a valid point, in that the well-intentioned shift of focus towards aptitude-based criteria could inadvertently disadvantage students from less well-to-do households ("Aptitude-based admission: Be mindful of opportunity gap among students"; last Tuesday).

In our meritocratic society, parents, especially the better-off ones, often go out of their way to equip their children with the relevant skills to succeed in school - be it a myriad of academic enrichment classes and private tuition arrangements, or training in music, sports and the arts from a tender age.

Even for the equally affluent families, the parents' education level also has significant implications on the children's academic and other performances in school. The list of "opportunity gaps" is long and always will be.

However, we cannot penalise the well-off ones just because they have more opportunities to succeed.

Rather, more effort should be put into levelling the playing field.

For example, more comprehensive and targeted financial assistance schemes that cover almost all school-related expenses and more Edusave scholarships can be set up to ease the burden of the less well-off but hard-working students.

Priority should also be given to these students in booking teachers' consultation time slots.

In essence, we should achieve equality by striving to empower everyone to compete on an equal footing, not by creating new inequalities.

Qu Aohan (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2016, with the headline 'Level playing field, not create new inequalities'. Print Edition | Subscribe